I’ve had a little over a decade of experience with the M-16/AR-15 platform. My first introduction to the platform was a heavily beat-up M16A2 with a bent front sight post that I was unfortunate enough to draw from an armory. From there, my first AR-15 I ever purchased for myself had one of POF-USA’s first piston-driven P416 upper receivers. Despite the overly heavy rail cluster that I thought I needed back then, the gun was accurate and reliable. I always knew of POF as a piston-driven specialist, so I was surprised to receive a rifle to review from them that was direct impingement. For those of you wondering about the “+”, there is a base-level DI rifle called the Renegade, and the one I was reviewing was equipped with many extra features. I soon found out that, true to POF form, this was no ordinary DI rifle.
Specs (per POF-USA’s website):
- 5.56×45 NATO
- Semi-auto, DI with POF-USA Ultimate Bolt Carrier Group
- 16.5″ Puritan Barrel with Dictator straight gas tube
- 33.5″ collapsed
- Black type 3 hard coat anodized finish
- 9 position Dictator adjustable gas block
MILSPEC Upper Receiver Renegade rail, M-LOK compatible with four integrated QD Sling Mounts
- POF USA Ambidextrous QD endplate
- POF-USA 3.5lb drop-in flat trigger
- Mission First Tactical Magazine, grip and stock
- MOA accuracy with proper ammo and shooter ability
Gen4 billet lower receiver, Ambidextrous Bolt Release, Ambidextrous Safety Selector, Ambidextrous Bolt Catch
The rifle came in a standard hardcase with eggshell foam, but I was intrigued the moment I uncased it. I found it to be pleasing to the eye, with no scratches, burrs or blemishes. The rifle balances extremely well right around the front of the triggerguard. There is a nice shelf scalloped out of each side of the magwell for one to rest one’s finger on when having one’s finger out of the triggerguard. The Mission first Tactical Stock and grip were very comfortable, and did not slip in my hand or on my shoulder. The stock had a very snug fit to the buffer tube, requiring some force to be extended into a comfortable position. Once it was there, however, there was no rattle or play, and I knew the stock was staying put. All the controls were completely ambidextrous, and worked easily with no grit or slop. I was surprised to find a bolt hold open catch inside the triggerguard. I am familiar with the MagPul BAD lever, but had not seen any rifle with a bolt catch like this before. The rifle felt light, and the new POF-USA flat trigger felt crisp with a very short reset. This trigger is a drop-in unit with urethane feet, and was developed with Timney. It was advertised as being a 3.5lb trigger, but mine averaged out a bit heavier at 4lbs, 5oz over 10 pulls. It is held in place by KNS anti-walk trigger pins, which is a nice touch. The tri-port muzzle break was interesting, with one hole on the left top, and three on the right top. The bolt carrier was very innovative, with a roller cam pin that decreases friction in the receiver, and a key that is built into the body. The tomahawk ambidextrous charging handle worked well with no binding from either side, and the action operated smoothly and was properly lubricated right out of the box. The 1:8 twist, 5R rifled barrel also has a few innovations that sets it apart. It has a heat sink barrel nut to dissipate heat. The barrel is also nitride heat treated, wherein the barrel is reamed to size and then heat treated. It has “E2” technology, channels cut into the chamber to use gas pressure that helps push the case out of the chamber. The top rail of the m-lok handguard was properly indexed with the upper receiver. The only thing that seemed off was that the handguard seemed to be overtightened. Overall, there were a number of features that set this rifle apart from a standard AR-15, and I was excited to take this rifle to the range and see what it could achieve.
Accuracy and Range Results:
I had the opportunity to test the Renegade with 13 different loads, some .223 and some 5.56. The Renegade performed admirably with most loads across a huge variation in bullet weight/length. Groups were 5 shots at 100 yards, measured center to center with a micrometer. The barrel was cleaned and allowed to cool between each group. Temperatures at the range were between 18 and 34 degrees fahrenheit. Results are below, arranged from best to worst performance:
- Black Hills 68gr Match HP: .49″
- Hornady 40gr v-max moly: .66″
- Black Hills 50gr v-max moly: .87″
- Black HIlls 77gr OTM: .91″
- Hornady TAP 60gr: .93″
- Black Hills 77gr TMK: 1.18″
- Federal 55gr XM193: 1.2″
- Federal 77gr SMK BTHP: 1.3″
- Fiocchi 45gr SNFT (frangible): 1.31″
- Black Hills 75gr Match HP: 1.34″
- Black HIlls 55gr FMJ: 1.82″
- PMC 55gr FMJ: 2.36″
- Federal 62gr TRU SP: 3.6″
The best group was with Black Hills 68gr Match HP, turning in a sub- 1/2moa group of .49″. another outstanding group was from Hornady’s 40gr V-Max Moly load at .66″. 5 out of the 13 loads delivered better than advertised sub-MOA results. The only load it did poorly with was Federal’s Tactical Rifle Urban 62gr SP load, leading me to believe that, as with most AR-type rifles, soft point ammunition deforms upon chambering. I was curious to see what the rifle could do immediately after having 230 rounds fired through it in a 5 minute period (1.3 rounds/second). During the firing of the 230 rounds, the handguard became uncomfortable to hold with bare hands after 210 rounds. Directly after firing the rapid string of rounds, I fired a group with the Black Hills 68gr Match HP load, with the hot, fouled barrel and was still able to achieve a group of 1.57″. Such results show more than enough retained accuracy potential to endure the round count of any 3-gun match. The rifle’s recoil from the bench with a magnified optic and bipod attached was so negligible that I could stay right on target and see the rounds impact. Recoil while shot offhand was also barely noticeable, and double taps on steel out to 300 yards were extremely easy to achieve. The recoil spring and buffer were not audible during firing, and I experienced zero muzzle blast or gas leakage. Even after 250 rounds through the gun with no cleaning of the barrel, I was still able to get 20/20 hits at 300 yards, and 30/30 hits at 500 yards on steel targets. Overall on the first day with the rifle, I fired 440 rounds with no cleaning or lubrication of anything but the barrel, with zero failures/stoppages. I tested the rifle with magazines from Colt (1980s production), Magpul (Gen 1, 2, and 3 PMags), H&K, and Mission First Tactical. The rifle fed from all the magazines flawlessly. All magazines also seated easily when fully loaded, and dropped free when released. The flat trigger really was an asset when the wind picked up and the sun went down. It was much easier to operate with light, medium, and heavy gloves than a normal curved trigger. I did not accidentally activate the bolt catch even with heavy gloves on. The best split time I was able to achieve with the trigger was .15s, in a 1-second 3 shot string with the first shot at .73s.
On my 2nd day with the rifle, I mounted a Vortex Razor red dot sight. The total weight of the rifle with the Razor attached was 6lbs 10oz. After zeroing, I ran the rifle through a “jungle lane”, some speed drills, simulated stages, “Mozambique” drills, and a shoot house. The first thing I noticed was that the rifle seemed to recoil up and to the right a bit more with just the RDS mounted versus having the magnified optic and bipod attached. Recoil transmitted to the shoulder and cheek was still barely noticeable. I compared the Renegade to a JP Enterprise SCR-11 and LaRue Predatar in several different drills, and the POF definitely held its own. The Renegade had a lot more “pointability” in speed drills than the LaRue, and was just easier to hold and control. I couldn’t get it to stay on target between shots as well as the JP Enterprise, and didn’t have quite as nice of a trigger, but It did handle better in the tight trees of the Jungle Lane and was a blast to use in the shoot house. It came up quickly, and swung easily to where I pointed it, and it’s light weight and excellent balance made it easy to control while opening doors or practicing one-handed shooting drills. I did try out the ambidextrous controls, and had to force myself to use devices such as the bolt catch in the triggerguard and the right hand bolt release. All the controls worked very well, and I suppose if one didn’t have traditional AR-15 handling deeply ingrained, was left handed, or firing weak-hand, one would find a real advantage to all the additional options for the controls.
After 887 rounds through the gun without cleaning of anything but the barrel or lubrication, the bolt started to stick a bit, and I got my first failure, being that the gun did not fully cycle enough to pick up another round. I got to try the adjustable “Dictator” gas block, and used the provided tool to rotate the gas block one click to the left to open up the gas port a bit more. I then was able to resume fire with no further issues for another 100 rounds, and fired a total of 987 rounds through the rifle. The ability to adjust the gas system was a great aid in getting the rifle running again, and also can aid in dialing the gas system to operate with the least amount of recoil, or tune the gun to work with specific ammunition and suppressor combinations.
Objectively, the Renegade is able to achieve very good accuracy results with a wide range of ammunition, and the ability to properly stabilize the frangible rounds was especially impressive, as I have experienced keyholing when firing the short, light rounds through a few other rifles. The Renegade can certainly be a sub-MOA gun with the right ammunition, and even had one load turn in 1/2 MOA results. Recoil is very soft due to the combination of the tunable mid-length gas block and the effective tri-port muzzle brake. The flat trigger works very well even with heavy gloves on, and facilitates fast split times. Reliability was also very good, and it can use a wide range of magazines.
Subjectively, The Renegade has great aesthetics in both looks and handling. It points and carries easily, and I personally had a great deal of fun putting rounds downrange with it. The supplied MFT stock was excellent, with zero wobble. It was comfortable on the shoulder whether in a bladed or squared-off stance. Being that a lot of shooting is purely recreational, I’d say that enjoyability of a firearm is a major factor. I couldn’t help but enjoy myself putting this rifle through its paces at the range, and it was a VERY hard decision to send it back. If I didn’t already have a rifle for 3-gun style competitions, I would certainly have asked to keep the Renegade. POF-USA has crafted a real winner with many innovative, premium features at a reasonable price point. If you are in the market for a 3-gun AR-15, or a fully ambidextrous rifle that is ready to go right out of the box, the Renegade is a real strong contender.
- Fully ambidextrous, with premium controls
- Premium trigger
- Adjustable gas system
- Accurate with a wide range of ammunition
- Sub-MOA capable
- Excellent handling
- Excellent stock
Con: (and an extremely minor one at that)
- Handguard seemed a bit overtightened
MSRP $1899, for more info: POF-USA
Thanks to Aaron of Hughston Shooting School (who is also an instructor at Thunder Ranch) for range time and technical assistance. Thanks to POF-USA for technical assistance.